Angel Capital Summit 2010 Roundup

A small step toward the Triple Bottom Line (Part 1 of 2)

Chia-Li Chien | Dec. 20, 2010

I’ve been living in Charlotte, NC about seven years and prior to here, we lived in Connecticut for fifteen years. Between the Northeastern and Southeastern climates, I learned the weather does have some impact on how people interact with each other. For instance, my younger brother lives in Los Angeles and I have observed a difference in how people act, think and behave in California. I also have been to Denver many times, but early December 2010 was the first time I actually felt something different in Denver. I’m pretty sure it was due to the climate at the Angel Capital Summit.

There were over 260 attendees at any given time flowing through the conference. The vibe, energy, openness and optimism of the entrepreneurs far outpaced any place I’ve ever been. I am an avid traveler and have been to a lot of places, but there was definitely something different in the air this time. Though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, here are some of the concrete things I discovered:

Part 1 - Workshops: With some fifteen workshops on the first day, I found myself really wanting to go to other workshops even while I was presenting. The information I found in each one was information I could implement right way.

A. Venture Labor and Raising Crowd Capital presented by Brian Tsuchiya, CEO of Startup Guru @StartupGuru. Having successfully raised millions for his own start-up companies, Tsuchiya shared with us about crowd funding, crowd laboring and legal considerations.

  • Set your expectations. Putting first things first, Tsuchiya indicated approximately only 1% of those seeking it successfully get any type of funding, including venture capital or angel capital. On average, angel capital funds 40% of debt financing and the average funding is between $10,000 and $25,000 per angel investor.
  • Not every investment has an exit event. According to the Small Business Association, of every six new businesses that open, five close in five years. Investors are cautious about investing in start-up entrepreneurs. A very small percentage of venture capital investments break even – and an even smaller percentage turn out to be profitable deals.
  • Crowd Labor. I have to admit that I did not know such a term existed. Basically it means to have a team of people working for either equity or for free. There are some implications on the legal side according to Tsuchiya. If this is the route that you pursue, be sure to have the proper legal documents to protect you, your team and your company.
  • Mentor + Funding = Success. For many years, I’ve advocated mentors working with entrepreneurs. A mentor is someone who has been there and done that, and in this case, ideally the mentor is a business owner who has successfully taken his or her company from start up to exit. Don’t confuse a mentor with a coach. A mentor generally helps you with business strategy while a coach helps you with personal development.

B. “Competitive Advantage from International Partnerships” by Becky DeStigter of The International Entrepreneur @intlentreprenr. Ever since globalization has taken the main stage, people in international business have to be careful what to do and what not to do. If you’re not already engaged in international business, think again. According to DeStigter, 90% of the companies looking for funding or investors at this Angel Capital Summit were international or from outside the U.S. DeStigter took us through some fun exercises in basic culture, gestures, and eye contact. She encouraged attendees to do their homework prior to doing business outside the U.S. Even small mistakes will not move your business forward and may cause you to lose the opportunity. Local strategic alliances can help you tremendously. And after the initial on-line introductions and phone conferences, there are still merits to meeting in person. Be sure to find out what is customary professionally in that country and practice what you’ve learned prior to your first meeting.

C. “A STRATEGIC Approach to Building a Winning Marketing Operation” by Sam Smith, CEO of Black Dog Strategic @BlkDogStrategic.  Why is most marketing effective?

  • Marketing is a strategic role in your business. Instead of a division of your operation team, put marketing on the same level as board, finance and major strategic functions. Otherwise, you will always be chasing the newest tools without a consistent branding message.
  • What is marketing? According to Smith, there is Upstream, Brand and Downstream marketing. Having the right data, knowledge, information and wisdom applied to your market research is the key to Upstream. Your product and service must be at a certain market space in either convenience or quality, no matter the brand. Effective downstream means using promotions and tactics to fulfill your brand image.
  • Define your target client profile. Know who you are communicating with, otherwise, your brand will not stick.
  • Tactics that you can use right away. Smith shared ten different tactics. My view is to not bother about choosing which tactics to use until you strategically know where you’re going. Otherwise, it will be a disaster and waste of money, time, and effort.

Stay tune for part 2...

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at or


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